DR Congo and Rwanda accuse each other of firing rockets across their shared border on Friday

    Relations between Rwanda and DRC continued to deteriorate on Friday night with Kinshasa accusing Kigali of shelling its territory, Chimp Corps report.

    “The Rwandan armed forces shelled the DRC territory at 4:15pm on Friday,” said North Kivu military spokesperson, General Sylvain Ekenge

    Gen Ekenge said Rwanda’s security forces struck Biruma settlement in Kabaya, Kisigari in Bwisha in Rutshuru, North Kivu, eastern Congo.

    The territories hit by RDF are located about 22 kms from the Rwandan border, according to Gen Ekenge.

    The development comes just hours after Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) accused DRC armed forces of firing rockets into Rwanda, injuring civilians.

    RDF said DRC troops fired two 122mm rockets into Rwanda from the Bunagana area, striking along the Rwanda-DRC border in Nyabigoma Cell, Kinigi Sector, Musanze District.

    In response to Rwanda’s statement, Gen Ekenge said two school children were killed in the attacks carried out by RDF on Friday evening,

    Earlier on Wednesday, the Congolese army accused Rwanda of sending 500 special forces operators in a new camouflage uniform to help M23 insurgents, a claim Kigali dismissed as “untrue.”

    The M23 rebels denied reports that Rwanda was helping the armed movement with heavily-armed soldiers and long-range weapons, saying if it were the case, the insurgents would have easily marched on DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.

    “If the M23 had the support of Rwanda, it would have repeated the AFDL march of 1997 since 2012,” said M23 political leader, Bertrand Bisimwa.

    Ekenge today said DRC armed forces obtained drone images showing RDF soldiers deployments in the Tshanzu area.

    DRC armed forces also promised to work with the UN peacekeeping force in eastern Congo  to defend the people of the region from “Rwanda’s aggression.”

    Tension between Rwanda and DRC has escalated in recent weeks with president Felix Tshisekedi publicly accusing Rwanda of supporting M23 militants.

    The Tutsi rebels want to be integrated in the mainstream armed forces and allowed to contest for political power.

    They also accuse DRC authorities of helping FDLR,  a militia group whose founders are blamed for masterminding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

    Rwanda Accuses DRC Forces of Fresh Cross-border Shelling

    Kigali has accused the Congolese army of shelling Rwandan territory, injuring civilians, Chimp Corps report.

    “The DRC armed forces, FARDC, fired two 122mm rockets into Rwanda from the Bunagana area, striking along the Rwanda-DRC border in Nyabigoma Cell, Kinigi Sector, Musanze District,” Rwanda Defence Force said in a statement on Friday night.

    The Rwandan army said the attacks occurred on today at 11:55am.

    “There were no casualties but the local population is terrified,” said RDF.

    ChimpReports earlier today reported that fighting had resumed in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where government troops are battling M23 rebels.

    The region had experienced a lull in fighting for 24 hours only for residents in the Rutshuru area only to wake up to heavy gunfire.

    DRC is yet to comment on today’s development which could signify a sharp escalation of tensions between Rwanda and DRC.

    On Wednesday, the Congolese army accused Rwanda of sending 500 special forces operators in a new camouflage uniform to help M23 insurgents, a claim Kigali dismissed as “untrue.”

    The M23 rebels denied reports that Rwanda was helping the armed movement with heavily-armed soldiers and long-range weapons, saying if it were the case, the insurgents would have easily marched on DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.

    “If the M23 had the support of Rwanda, it would have repeated the AFDL march of 1997 since 2012,” said M23 political leader, Bertrand Bisimwa.

    RDF today said the attacks in Musanze follow similar shelling by forces in DRC on 19 March and 23 May 2022 in Kinigi and Nyange Sectors of Musanze District and in Gahunga Sector of Burera District, which caused casualties and damaged property.

    “These incidents, including the kidnap by FARDC-FDLR of two RDF soldiers on border patrol, have been reported to the Government of DRC, the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism of the ICGLR and other partners,” said RDF.

    Poor relations

    Relations between Kigali and Kinshasa have deteriorated in recent weeks with president Felix Tshisekedi publicly accusing Rwanda of supporting M23 militants.

    The Tutsi rebels want to be integrated in the mainstream armed forces and allowed to contest for political power.

    They also accuse DRC authorities of helping FDLR,  a militia group whose founders are blamed for masterminding the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

    Uganda’s Land Forces Commander, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba this week met with the East African Community (EAC) chairman, President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi where they discussed the DRC conflict.

    “After meeting my big brother in Nairobi, H.E. Uhuru, our Chairman of the EAC, I believe we have a path to peace in Eastern DRC,” said Gen Muhoozi, adding, “The greatest warriors are those who seek peace over war!”

    In its statement today, RDF sought to assure the population that “efforts to resolve this issue are underway and their safety is assured.”

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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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